The final week of the regular season is upon us and the Dodgers are closing in on their sixth consecutive National League West title. They finish up with the Diamondbacks and Giants, a pair of teams that would love nothing more than to spoil the Dodgers playoff goals.
Arizona enters the three-game set Monday having lost 17 of their last 22 games. After spending over 110 days of the season in first place in 2018, the Dbacks were dethroned for good when the Dodgers took three of four from Arizona at Dodger Stadium as the season moved into September.
Just three weeks later, the Snakes are eight games back and have been eliminated from the playoff race. It may be asking too much, but the Dodgers could finish the year with a record better than .500 against all NL West opponents if they sweep the final six games.
Both the Dbacks and Giants have taken nine of the 16 games to this point.
The Dodgers obviously need to take care of business this week to secure a playoff spot, but they could start the opening round at home if the Braves cooperate. Atlanta is only ahead of the Dodgers by one game and would lose a tie between the clubs since Los Angeles won five of the seven meetings this season.
As it stands now, the Cubs would play whoever wins the wild card game between the Brewers and Cardinals. There are still a good amount of scenarios that can happen, as outlined by Eric Stephen if you’re in favor of complete chaos.
All the Dodgers can do is handle the game in front of them, which they’ve been doing for more than three weeks now, going 20-8 since St. Louis swept them in August.
Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler could get the ball in four of the remaining six games if necessary to extend the season into October. With only a 1.5-game lead, the possibility remains high for that scenario to play out.
Monday, 6:40 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)
Kershaw had struggled at times at Chase Field before this season, carrying a career 3.75 ERA in 12 starts. But the lefty has done well in two starts earlier this year, allowing exactly two runs in six innings in each game. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost both of those games.
In four total starts against Arizona this season, Kershaw has allowed just seven runs over 26 innings.
Robbie Ray has been good since the start of August, posting a 2.40 ERA (13 ER/48.2 IP) in nine starts. Ray started the only game the Dodgers lost in the most recent four-game series, allowing just one run in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Tuesday, 6:40 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA, ESPN)
Walker Buehler looks to maintain his exceptional second half, owning a 1.58 ERA in his last 10 starts. The Dodgers have won four of the last five when Buehler is on the mound.
Matt Koch makes just his second start in the last two months. The right-hander has given up 32 runs (30 earned) over his previous eight starts, allowing five or more runs in half of those games.
Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA, ESPN*)
Ross Stripling makes his final start of the regular season and maybe the season altogether. The 28-year-old hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in any of his three starts in September.
With Zack Greinke, it’s usually about how many starts he has allowed two or less runs in. Recently, the almost 35-year-old has allowed at least three in all but one of his last eight starts. Greinke has given up a total of 26 runs (24 earned) in 52 innings over that time, to the tune of a 4.15 ERA.
*=blacked out in local market